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Deep Water Trawl Ban will Harm Scottish Fishing Industry, says MEP

26 March 2013

SCOTLAND, UK - Scots MEP Struan Stevenson has responded to a vote in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) last week to ban deep water trawling at depths below 200 metres, saying that such a move would seriously harm the Scottish fishing industry.

Speaking in Brussels today following a tense and lengthy debate on deep-sea stocks in the Fisheries Committee, Struan said: “I am astonished that the Environment Committee yesterday voted in favour of a proposal to ban deep water trawling at depths below 200 metres, something that goes way beyond the proposal from the European Commission. Although the Committee's opinion is only consultative and carries no legislative weight, it clearly demonstrates that the decision was taken from a position of ignorance of the true facts and the socio-economic impacts that such a ban would have.

“Scottish vessels in particular fish on the slope of the Continental Shelf down to depths of 900 metres, catching whitefish like megrim, pollock and monkfish. This significant fishery would be seriously impacted by any proposed deep water ban. It is a ludicrous idea to suggest to Scottish fisherman in Fraserburgh, Peterhead or Kinlochbervie that they should attempt to catch monkfish at 900 metres with longlines.”

Mr Stevenson continued: “While I recognise the need to look at a new management regime that provides full protection to the endangered deep water, slow-maturing species, a one-size-fits-all ban not only flies in the face of the spirit of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, but would only represent the thin end of the wedge. Would the well-funded ‘green’ lobby push for a total ban on shallow water trawling next? There is no way I am prepared to go down that path.”

Mr Stevenson concluded: “The Fisheries Committee will hold an additional hearing on this issue on Monday 17th June in Brussels, where scientists and stakeholders can give us a clear view on the massive displacement that would be caused to many vessels in Scotland and other EU member states if the Commission proposals or the ENVI decisions are implemented. I hope this extra hearing will enable us to arrive at a more balanced decision which will have a long term benefit for the sector and for the future of sustainable deep sea fishing.”

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